Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Thomas More in Sir Thomas More (Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Heywood, Thomas Dekker & Shakespeare)

Things get interesting on this Monologue Monday. I was originally going to profile A Man for All Seasons about Thomas More (Catholic saint and proto-Communist). Sadly, not many monologues are available online from this wonderful play. But there is another play entitled Sir Thomas More and one monologue from this play has picked up steam in recent years.

The play is unusual in that it’s divided into thirds and depicts three distinct portions of More’s life with little overlap. 1. Thomas More stops a riot in 1517 when he was under-sherif of London. 2. His private family life showing how kind and funny he was. 3. His time as Privy Councilor and Lord Chamberlain and opposition to king Henry VIII, resulting in More’s execution.

The play is also unusual because a whole lot of dudes [sorry ladies] wrote it. Apparently, Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle produced the first draft. Then several years later, Thomas Heywood, Thomas Dekker and old Bill Shakespeare hammered out another draft. Naturally the monologue is attributed to Shakespeare (this may be some PR at work). If you’re interested, we’ve profiled other Shakespeare monologues before. Check Aaron in Titus Andronicus, Rumor in Henry V, part 2, The Jailer’s Daughter in Two Noble KInsmen and Imogen/Innogen in Cymbeline.

Back to our monologue. Ill May Day (aka Evil May Day) was a real thing. Normally, May Day = Party Day. But not in 1517. In recent years, wealthy merchants and bankers had been immigrating to London but also laborers had immigrated as well. Most of the immigrants were French-speaking Protestants fleeing persecution or Flemish immigrants. They only made up about 2% of London’s population, but for some people that was two percent too much. 

A fortnight before May Day, people started making anti-immigrant speeches and rumors started that “on May Day next the city would rebel and slay all aliens.” And true to the rumors, gangs of folks tried to do just that. To Henry VIII’s credit, he was not a fan and tried to stop the riot, ordering his right hand man Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to end it. Thomas More, as under-sheriff of London, made an appeal to the rioters. Apparently, it stalled them but didn’t stop the riots, though some foreigners thought it helped in some way. The irony behind these riots is that the only perople killed were twelve rioters who executed afterwards (hehe). One final irony is that hundreds of people were arrested for treason and could have been executed, but Henry’s wife Queen Catherine of Aragon (a foreigner herself) convinced her husband to pardon and release them.

As you probably know, More eventually wrote Utopia, became Lord Chamberlain and got his head whacked off. There’s a play about all that (and a movie….and another movie).

The monologue that’s speading these days is from Sir Thomas More, Act II, Scene 2 when More confronts the rioters. In the play, he talks them down.

SIR THOMAS MORE

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise

Hath chid down all the majesty of England;

Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,

Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,

Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,

And that you sit as kings in your desires,

Authority quite silent by your brawl,

And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;

What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught

How insolence and strong hand should prevail,

How order should be quelled; and by this pattern

Not one of you should live an aged man,

For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,

With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,

Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes

Would feed on one another.

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Happy to know I’m not the only playwright who failed penmanship class.
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From here.

I know what you’re thinking: thank God we don’t live in 1517 where everyone’s a racist xenophobic prick. Just kidding. Xenophobia, fascism and racism is still totally a thing and I’m not talking about if a dumpster fire cosnisting of fecal matter and racism were human President Trump  but other countries as well, including, but not limited to, Indonesia, South Africa, Singapore, Poland, South Korea, Germany (but no surprise there), the Netherlands (let me introduce you to South Africa and Indo- oh, never mind), Brazil and speaking of Brazil, here’s Portugal.

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I’d never want to forget the UK and their whole Brexit boner. Perhaps Antarctica is free of xenophobia.
When written, the play was never performed (it was banned), but the Royal Shakespeare Company did a performance in 2006.
Anyways, here’s the monologue being performed, even by Ian McKellen.

 

 

 

For more information about “Evil May Day” please check these links:

Site 1

Site 2

Site 3

For more about the play Sir Thomas More, please check these links:

Site 1

Site 2 (the whole dang play)

Site 3 (a video of [maybe] the whole play)

For more about xenophobia, just look out your window.

We’ll be back on Monday with more monologues!!! Hooray!!!

 

 

 

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Imogen/Innogen from “Cymbeline” (Shakespeare)

So I’m still under the weather, but Monologue Monday must still go on.

And I know for a blog called “Unknown Playwrights” we do use monologues from Shakespeare from time to time. Sorry about that.

However, this is from Shakespeare’s most bonkers play. In fact the following exchange is from an interview with a production company:

EL: Cymbeline is crazy. Because it’s less well known, it allows KCST to really make the production its own and make it an extremely unique, entertaining Shakespeare show.

DG: Cymbeline has got it all, and it’s hysterical.

CR: Think of all of the crazy devices used in Shakespeare’s plays – armies, combat, potions, evil royalty, gender flopping – they all appear in “Cymbeline”. You’re guaranteed to be entertained!

Guaranteed. Not even Hamlet can do that. What is at the heart of this bit of theatrical insanity you (probably don’t) ask?

Let’s take the plot, which is so psychotically convoluted that the plot summary would take an entire night at the theatre to read. Seriously. Look here, here or here.

Did you notice some places spelled her name “Innogen” and some as “Imogen.” yeah, it’s that type of play.

I’ll attempt to paraphrase the plot.

Roman Britain. Imogen‘s dad (and client king for the Romans) Cymebline has a hot new wife (the aptly-named Queen) and wants his daughter to marry her himbo stepbrother Cloten; she secretly marries her true love Posthumus.  Cymbeline goes nuts and banishes Posthumus.

The lovers exchange a ring (for her) and a bracelet (for him). Then they seperate.

Cymbeline wants to imprison Imogen up until she agrees to marry Cloten. The wicked stepmother gives poison to Imogen’s servant Pisanio for future use.  Cloten tries to serenade Imogen.

A grade-A douche-sprocket named Iachimo shows up from Rome. He’s like if Othello’s friend Iago was an even bigger wad. He makes a bet with Posthumus that he can make Imogen cheat on him.  Great guy…

You know what? the play doesn’t get any better. If we were to give Shakespeare the benefit of the doubt, it could be a comedy taking on all the tropes he used. People more important than me believe so.

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But others stick with tragedy:

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Maybe it’s a tragedy because it’s just so bad. Or Shakespeare’s buddies were playing a joke on future English Lit majors all around the world.

But enough of Shajespearean doggerel. Let’s get down to some monologues, which seem to be popular on Youtube. I consider Immogen/Innogen to be a strong character simply because she has to tolerate all the nonsense from the other characters.

This first monologue of Imogen’s comes from Act III, Scene 2. She wants a horse with wings, because who DOESN’T want a horse with wings????

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Now we’re on Act III, Scene 4 where Imogen mentions she’s not gonna not never has cheated on her husband, though I think she should with that bet and all.

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The next monologue comes from Imogen talking about how a man’s life is a tedious one. So is a theatre blogger’s. Sigh. One actor chose to do this from a sleeping position. Interesting contrast.

Act III, Scene 6

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So now we skip back to Act I, Scene 3. Imogen talks about taking leave. One actor chooses to incoporate the previous line as well.

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And since that was a misogynistically brutal era, of course Imogen begs Pisanio to kill her if he wants to be a good servant, because suicide will send you to Hell or something. Act III, Scene 4

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We’re almost done! This scene is Act I, Scene 6. Imogen tells someone to leave her alone.

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So now we’re closing in. Act IV, Scene 2. I’m just gonna call this “Imogen waking up” because that’s exactly what she’s doing. She’s going to Milford Haven, not Milford, Utah. Let’s check it out!!!

Act IV, Scene 2

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And that is the end of Imogen in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. To celebrate, let’s watch the trailer for the weird biker adapatation of the play:

 

Join us on Thursday for another unknown playwright and be sure to check out other Monologue Mondays.

Please check out Shakespeare’s other monologues that we’ve featured:

Henry IV, part 2

Titus Andronicus

The Two Noble Kinsmen

For a COMPLETE list of monologues, click here.

Cheers!!!!!

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Aaron’s confession in Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare)

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The only contemporary drawing of a Shakespeare scene [ca. 1595] with Aaron on the right…or not.
This week is Titus Andronicus week (that Shakespeare movie with Anthony Hopkins).

Or rather, Shakespeare’s bloodiest and rapiest play. Oh, and it includes an early “Your mama” insult.

Let’s see what the esteemed Royal Shakespeare Company has to say:

SYNOPSIS

A summary of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus – his most bloody revenge tragedy. 

The brothers Saturninus and Bassianus are in contention for the Roman emperorship.

Titus Andronicus, Rome’s most honoured general, returns from wars against the Goths with their queen, Tamora, her sons and her lover, Aaron the Moor, as captives. Her eldest son is sacrificed by Titus; she vows revenge.

A NEW EMPEROR

Titus is nominated emperor by his brother Marcus, one of Rome’s tribunes. This Titus declines, instead nominating Saturninus.

To seal the bond of friendship, the new emperor, Saturnius, offers to marry Titus’s daughter Lavinia. She, however, is already pledged to Bassianus.

Saturninus, by now infatuated with Tamora, makes her empress instead.

REVENGE

Manipulated by Aaron, Tamora’s sons, Chiron and Demetrius, avenge their mother by raping and mutilating Lavinia, and killing Bassianus. Aaron falsely implicates two of Titus’s sons in this murder.

In his turn Titus vows revenge and sends his surviving son Lucius to the Goths to raise an army. Titus achieves his revenge by killing Tamora’s sons and serving them up to her at a banquet, and then killing her.

He himself is killed by Saturninus and his death avenged by Lucius, who is made emperor.

Pleasant stuff there. I remember my jerkface English teacher in high school telling us how much Titus Andronicus sucked and how we shouldn’t even bother reading it.

And ask much of a jerkface as my English teacher was, the character of Aaron is a straight up dick.

And, in typical Shakespearean fashion, he’s bad simply because he’s bad. Though one could argue he’s bad because he’s the victim of racist abuse for…like ever.

I found some videos on Youtube of actors doing Aaron’s confession. Aaron is an interesting character for any actor because on one hand he absorbs all sorts of racism and actually kills someone on account of her racial slurs:

“Zounds, ye whore! Is black so base a hue?”

Yet at the same time seems to think having dark skin makes it OK for him to run around killing everyone:

“Let fools do good, and fair men call for grace; Aaron will have his soul black like his face.”

Here is the monologue:

AARON Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.
Even now I curse the day–and yet, I think,
Few come within the compass of my curse,–
Wherein I did not some notorious ill,
As kill a man, or else devise his death, 130
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it,
Accuse some innocent and forswear myself,
Set deadly enmity between two friends,
Make poor men’s cattle break their necks;
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night, 135
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
Oft have I digg’d up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees, 140
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
‘Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.’
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed 145
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.

There are multiple versions of Aaron’s confession monologue on Youtube. Let’s take a look:

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He did it for the lolz.

For more Shakespeare monologues, check out:

Henry IV, part 2

The Two Noble Kinsmen

Cymbeline

Join us later this week when we meet Canada’s unsung playwriting hero – until next time…

Here’s a complete list of monologues on the site.

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Rumor in Henry IV, part 2 (Shakespeare)

 

Howdy. Yeah, I know, Henry IV having two parts is already kinda dumb since he is the fourth to begin with. BUT on my quest for unisex monologues, Shakespeare has a couple.

For those of you aren’t too familiar with Henry IV, part 2, it follows Richard II and Henry IV, part 1 in Shakespeare’s history plays series. It precedes (naturally) Henry V.

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Shakespeare’s most boar-ing play. Har, har, har. Actually this looks pretty badass.

Basically Henry IV, part 1 deals with finishing off a revolt against the king (Henry IV). The comic character of John Falstaff returns and so does Prince Hal, trying to win Dad’s approval.

One interesting thing to note is that, according to the Wiki gods:

Part 2 is generally seen as a less successful play than Part 1. Its structure, in which Falstaff and Hal barely meet, can be criticised as undramatic. Some critics believe that Shakespeare never intended to write a sequel, and that he was hampered by a lack of remaining historical material with the result that the comic scenes come across as mere “filler”. However, the scenes involving Falstaff and Justice Shallow are admired for their touching elegiac comedy, and the scene of Falstaff’s rejection can be extremely powerful onstage.

There is an argument that perhsps Hal wasn’t even the main character originally, but that interpretations since around 1800 have favored him over Ye Olde Falstaff.

But we’re here for that awesome unisex monologue of Rumor, who, according to Shmoop:

In the play’s “Induction” (prologue) a figure wearing a robe “painted full of tongues” steps onto the stage. This figure is not a human character – it’s a personification of rumor or, hearsay – the kinds of stories that are circulated without any confirmation or certainty. In other words, Shakespeare takes an abstract concept, rumor, and gives it human characteristics.

For a fine copy of this prologue/monologue, check out Sparknotes.

Now, let’s see this character in action, though not all actors are wearing a robe covered in tongues…

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Who brought it???

For more Shakespeare monologues, there’s  The Two Noble Kinsmen and Titus Andronicus along with Cymbeline.

For ALL monologues on this site, click here.

Join us on Thursday when we discover an interesting American playwright from the 1910s…and next Monday, when we make the monologues happen again.

Cheers!!!

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: The Jailer’s Daughter from Two Noble Kinsmen (Shakespeare/Fletcher).

Howdy. We’re back with more Monologue Monday Madness. This time the monologue comes from a little-known John Fletcher/ William Shakespeare combo effort, The Two Noble Kinsmen.

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Relatively obscure, yet still made it to the Simpsons.

Here’s a nifty one minute video that explains everything. Pay attention to the final 10 seconds. That’s our important part.

 

So yeah, Johnny and Billy ripped off Geoff Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale.

I also wrote a review of a production once.

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Sharah Meservy at full-bonkers as The Jailer’s Daughter in a Utah production.

Anyhow, the Jailer’s Daughter (aka another female character without a name) falls deeply in love with one of the stud-knights, Palamon. Eventually this one-sided love will drive her insane. It produced a fairly common monologue on Youtube.

Not to diss the essence of the monologue, but are female monologues so lacking that actresses must choose to play a crazy gal from 1613?

Again, these actors are tougher and braver than I am.

Here, the character debates who she should do about Palamon.

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Did anyone stand out? Feel free to comment below!

For a complete list of monologues, check here.

Join us on Thursday when we profile our next Unknown Playwright!